The Consumer Fraud Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a government agency that protects consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices and takes action against companies that break the law. Their goal is to ensure that all companies play by the same consumer protection rules and compete fairly on providing quality and service.
The CFPB receives over 100,000 complaints each year and they have severe punishments for those who violate the law. Since these harmful complaints can tarnish a company’s brand, it behooves them not to try to resolve these issues in a timely manner.
Fortunately, all of this data is available online for consumers to fully understand and analyze. Naturally, working at a data analytics company, we wanted to see what insights we could learn from this data.
Running the data in SAP Analytics Cloud
While the CFPB provides a very rich source of data and lots of reports and statistics, the problem is that it’s just data. Without any type of analytics, it’s really hard to make sense of it all.
The first insight we can see is that since the bureau was founded, the number of complaints has risen each year.
If we look at this on a month-over-month, quarter-over-quarter, and year-over-year, we can see that these numbers keep increasing.
Where people feel they’re victims of fraud?
The charts below show the total number of complaints by product and issue reported.
Not surprisingly, the biggest consumer disputes are financially-related such as:
- Credit checks
- Debt collection
- Credit reporting
We can drill down further into Wells Fargo and see that mortgages top the list at 60.2% followed by Checking or Savings Account issues are 23.6% of all consumer complaints.
Where are the spikes?
If we look at all of the complaints by “day”, we see two large spikes:
- Jan 2017 (Navient lawsuit)
- Sept 2017 (Equifax data breach)
Since the Equifax data breach, the CFPB has received more than 18,000 complaints and has since filed a lawsuit against them. You can get all of the latest updates from the CFPB equifax page.
Navient provides student loans (through Fannie Mae) and they have a long history of cheating students out of their repayment rights.
As a result, the CFPB is suing Navient against these deceptive practices. Since this lawsuit, over 14,000 people have filed complaints against Navient and may be entitled to compensation.
What is the CFPB doing about these complaints?
In addition to the two lawsuits (Equifax and Navient), the purpose of the CFPB is to force these companies to respond and resolve to these complaints in timely manner. In the figure below, we see that companies are responding in a timely manner 93% of the time.
However, the vast majority (78%) of these complaints receive a “Closed with explanation” response, which is unclear whether that is satisfactory to the consumer.
If we drill down on the “Closed with monetary relief”, we see 1000s of complaints where the victims received some sort of compensation – where they may not have had it not been for the CFPB.
Unfortunately, Equifax didn’t make the top 20 and Navient is very far down on the list.
What does this all mean?
- The CFPB is helping. These large financial institutions control your house, your money, your credit report, and your student loan and any deceptive or unethical practices can be extremely disruptive to people’s lives. The results of people’s complaints have directly lead to large lawsuits and financial settlements against these large institutions, which is supported by the data.
- Most Companies dismiss these claims. While the data doesn’t tell us why the complaints are being rejected, it appears to be difficult to get any monetary or other type of relief. So if you feel as though you’ve been a victim, you may not get the resolution you were expecting.
- People need analytics, not data. While the CFPB does an excellent job providing timely and updated raw data, they provide little analytics and insight into this data. Visualizing the data allows ordinary people to see the whole story in the data.